Selecting a name for your start-up venture is not far removed from naming a newborn child. This business really is your “baby,” and you want to name it something special. Additionally, you may want the business name to reflect and project noteworthy attributes to customers while being memorable and marketable.

A good name can go a long way towards branding your business. The challenge of choosing a business name can be as easy as it can be daunting; it depends greatly on what your vision for the business is, and where you intend to take it. As you contemplate your short list of possible start-up names, consider the following insights to simplify the process:

  • Find out if your chosen name has already been taken. The advancements in technology over the past decade have created a glut of sorts in the cyber world. Countless domain names have been appropriated for everything from legitimate company websites to amateur blogs. As a result, you must thoroughly research whether the possible start-up names you have selected are available. Various free sources (such as sites like and others) are at your disposal to facilitate the verification process. Assume that your stroke of name picking genius has already been taken, and proceed accordingly. Remember that a simple alteration can change a domain name, but can also inadvertently align your start-up with something far removed from what you want.
  • Consider whether you want your name as part of the business name. Though naming your start-up is a step in the early stages of the company’s development, looking toward the future is an important component in the naming phase. Consider the possibility of exiting the business at some point, and whether you would want any lasting connection courtesy of your name tied into the company name. History is littered with entrepreneurs who started small businesses only to leave their names and/or likenesses behind after moving on from their original concepts. If you were to part ways due to acrimony or conflict, would you be comfortable with your name staying on with the new owners? Would you be willing to simply give up a brand that had special personal meaning? If not, this possible exit scenario should shape your present name selection strategy.
  • Make it memorable and appropriate for your brand. Creativity is a key ingredient in choosing a business name. The goal is to find something that is catchy, yet also appropriate. This is where your brainstorming process can be positively impacted by objective feedback. Think of how your start-up serves a given customer base, and the type of name that would properly represent the business. Avoid clichés, and go for a name that deviates from the norm. Then look to friends, colleagues, etc. to chime in from a consumer’s perspective. Don’t be shy about asking whether the names under consideration would be deterrents to patronizing your business, and following up on the reasons why. Name recognition is an invaluable asset, especially with e-commerce and e-marketing playing such dominant roles in a start-up’s business model.
  • Find inspiration in the current landscape. Getting ideas from current businesses is a smart idea, as you’re plumbing the depths of existing (and successful) companies. Look at various businesses that have capitalized on name recognition, and think of how that information can benefit your selection process. Are there specific competitors in your market segment that stand out on name alone? How about businesses (unrelated to your start-up) that have successfully tied in a name and product offering? There’s no shame in looking outside for inspiration as virtually everything is derivative of something already conceived. Also, don’t neglect the businesses that you patronize. Think about why are they attractive to you as a consumer. That may help you to pare down your options as you choose a name for your own business.

The selection of a suitable name for your start-up can literally make or break the business. Too contrived, and customers may avoid your business; too generic, and you’ll get lost with countless others; too edgy, and you may end up misrepresenting what your start-up actually does. Thoughtful consideration will win the day, as you focus on making your start-up name memorable. What will set your business apart and make a lasting impression on the marketplace? Get ready to play the name game…and play to win.